After two nights of waking up, screaming that his tummy hurt, begging for medicine and asking to go to the doctor, Nash’s parents scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician. His left rib cage looked bruised and distended. The doctor examined him thoroughly and couldn’t find anything extremely alarming. The lump and bruise on his rib wasn’t as visible and the pain in that area, along with the belly bloat, could be because of gas pain trapped via constipation. They also discussed Nash’s frequent bloody noses over the last two weeks, which was explained by seasonal dryness. At the end of the appointment, the doctor said that he would run a complete blood panel in a few days, just to be safe, since Nash was coming back in for his well check anyway.
Monday, January 21st, 2019, Nash had a pre-scheduled 30 month well check appointment. When asked for Nash’s history and if there were any concerns, his mom mentioned the tummy aches, bloody nose, and his bruising. A blood sample was drawn and a few minutes later they were told a second draw was needed because something was “off”. They ran his blood again, testing each sample twice. The nurse practitioner came back in and said that she wouldn’t be seeing Nash for his well check that day because he needed to go to the hospital immediately. His levels of platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells were all abnormal. Nash was taken to CHOA Egleston, where the ER doctor was very calm and reassuring and told them that they wanted the hematology specialist to check the blood sample. There was a moment of hope that this was all a mistake and Nash just had something minor going on. Then Dr. Patel came in and very calmly said that something was seriously wrong and that while he couldn’t confirm it in that moment, he was all but certain that Nash had Leukemia.
The next 24 hours were a blur, but the next morning Nash’s parents were told that he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia B-cell. Nash then had a bone marrow aspiration, spinal tap and chemo injection into the spinal fluid, a port placement in his chest, and the first dose of his chemo treatment. Twenty-six hours. Nash’s mom reflects that’s about how long it was in between his going to a normal well-check visit as a mostly healthy child, and his lying in a hospital bed on a pediatric cancer ward getting chemotherapy. She says their world will never be the same and that they will never have another morning like the last morning they woke up before his diagnosis. Now there is only pre-cancer and after-cancer. She knows that he will be healthy again and that childhood cancer will not be his story; it will just add to his story.